3 years later, during the week from 21th to 28th July, Andrea was training for the new record attempt in Sharm El Sheikh announcing a dive at -200m depth. Well, that was the schedule of the all team; unfortunately things did not unfold as planned. Something else got in the way of this new performance record. Narcosis!! Well it seems that equalization is not the only phantom that need to be conquered in order to reach the deepest free diving human limits, after all. Training for the records attempt Andrea was performing dives reaching -185m with plenty of air still available for equalization, all seems to be perfect to start the record final descent but during most of the deep dives a strong narcosis during ascent was interfering with decision making action of safety and comfortable sensations.
The narcosis, it’s a physiological reaction due to enhanced partial pressure of carbon dioxide and nitrogen very common in scuba divers descending under 30 meter of depth with an exponential increment of neurological effect as depth increases. Science has not yet verified what happen at neuronal level , only few studies have been done, implying enhanced concentration of serotonin and permeability of neuron membrane. In freediving due to the fact of breath holding, narcosis effects are rare and only below certain depth those uncomfortable feeling of dizziness and altered neuromuscolar coordination take place.
During a lot of free dives this year Andrea felt the narcosis stronger and more often than in the past so he decided that trying to exceed those depths would have been too dangerous, since all security procedures that need to be taken at depth in order to allow safety ascent would be compromised by the neurological implication of narcosis. Yesterday 28/08/17 Andrea, decided, although with regret, to stop the 200m record attempt and to formalize the New No Limits Italian Record at -185 mt.
In the past the No Limits Records were approved by AIDA, but this world wide free diving association decided, in recent years, to stop the formalization and certification of this discipline.Although the -185mt were performed by Andrea during unofficial record dives, but during the training stages, witnesses and camera footage confirm the new record depth of -185m as being official
The last two months Andrea reached -185mt three times, in the first, beginning of July, not only the narcosis has been the problem, but even the equalization was at the limit of his capacities, so that he decided to make a step back, to dive shallower for a while trying to improve the equalization protocol and adjust the last Mounthfill charge deeper, which would allow him to reach -185m in more relaxed state. At the end of July he was ready to repeat the same depth of -185 meters and this time the equalization was perfect, so well done that he thought he could go for the 200 meters Record, but the narcosis was still too strong to go deeper!
During the last year Andrea with some specific trainings improved his Vital Capacity from 6 Lt. to 7,5 Lt. and his C.V with packing from 8 Lt. to 10 Lt.
Andrea thought that maybe the reason of this problem was due to the two extra liters of air he was able to pack in his lungs, which increase the volume of nitrogen carried at depth.
Again he stepped back, which is necessary in this condition for safety reason. New training protocols were introduced starting at -165m with no packing to eliminate the air volume hypothesis, unfortunately narcosis was still present. Acclimatization to depth is one of the procedures that scuba divers uses to get rid of narcosis , but this seems not to be effective in free diving, what do we miss ?
The exact week of the record attempt , 21th to 28th of August, Andrea easily reached the 185m depth but sadly, even after days of rest, narcosis materialize again, leaving Andrea with no other choices than step back and figure out how to overcome this problem, which in free diving is very difficult to handle. My limit it is -185m, for now, he declared officially.